Every minute of every day you encounter new and familiar people and situations. Most of these encounters are planned well in advance. There are professional meetings like sales call, town halls, information sessions, team gatherings and networking opportunities. There are personal appointments that focus on your wellness and personal care. There are social engagements where you spend quality time with people who you admire and respect who matter the most to you. Then there are the unplanned encounters, someone you meet from the past who stirs up good or bad memories or a situation that delivers happiness or frustration.
It is the planned encounters that can offer the most surprises. You can attach a great deal of unrealistic expectation to these encounters and often find yourself disillusioned and disappointed with yourself, the other person or the situation. I believe that you may not be defining at the outset whether you want this encounter to be a transaction or an interaction.
What is a transaction and what is an interaction and how do you know the difference?
In a transaction, you are “thinking” – for example, coming up with new and innovative solutions, focusing on the details, getting things done, delivering results on time and on budget as well as thinking about all of the other things you have left to do and whether or not you have enough time to complete them. A transaction can also involve money. You work in a role, deliver a product or perform a service and you are paid accordingly. Alternatively, a transaction is when you purchase a product or service on the phone, on-line or in person and you pay a set amount for it. The quality of a transaction is often measured by its speed and efficiency.
In an interaction, you focus on the “feeling” – for example, being present and attentive, making it about the other person, asking insightful questions to get informative answers, listening to what the other person is saying and not saying be they family, friend, colleague or client/customer, sharing your knowledge and experiences and showing that you truly care about the person or situation. The quality of an interaction is measured in how positive, valuable and memorable the encounter was for you and the other person.
Technology is increasingly taking over many aspects of our personal and professional lives. It allows what were once interactions to become transactions through communicating by text and e-mail. Interactions on the phone and in person are becoming less frequent in our time-crunched lives.
With the recent three-day Blackberry outage, it is my hope that Blackberry users shifted their focus from the quantity of text and e-mail transactions to the quality of phone and in person interactions and will continue this practice even though their service has now been restored.
Think about your daily encounters – are they transactions or interactions? If most of your encounters are transactions, make it a goal to insert more interactions into your daily life.